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Moroccan Mystique

By Duane Birkey

This summer I spent a week in Morocco photographing some of the people that HCJB World Radio is trying to reach. While the specific details are confidential, HCJB is helping partner ministries and local churches across North Africa and the Middle East to produce gospel radio programs that are broadcast via short-wave, satellite, local radio and the internet.

Marrakech is quite an amazing place to visit for the senses. You are always surrounded by interesting things to see, hear and smell. The narrow, winding, covered streets lined with shops always seem to hold a small surprise around the next corner. More often than not, the surprise is that the street dead ends into someone’s house.

The main streets are filled with horse drawn carriages, small taxis, buses, bicycles and motor scooters. There are people everywhere wearing many different types of clothing. You hear various languages being spoken, mainly French, Berber and Arabic. And then there are tourists speaking their own languages as well.

One of the biggest attractions in the city of Marrakech is the Djemaa el-Fna or the main square. You know you are close to the square when you hear the banging of drums, clanging of small hand cymbals and the wailing pipe sounds made by snake charmers. But no matter where you are, you will hear the call to prayer over loud speakers from mosques all over the city.

At night, the main square in Marrakech turns into one large food court with many small restaurants preparing local cuisine. Nearby, various performers continue to entertain the crowds: acrobats, belly dancers, drummers, musicians, snake charmers and traditional story tellers.

It is quite amazing, to say the least, and has been declared by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site. Marrakech provides an incredible wealth of photo opportunities. Unfortunately, many people do not like having their photos taken mainly due to their Muslim beliefs.

Sixty percent of the population of Morocco is under the age of 25. You see them with their MP3 players, cell phones, sunglasses and t-shirts and one could easily see them walking comfortably around in any major western city.

I actually found viewing the various generations together to be quite fascinating. I remember seeing one family walking together. The grandmother was wearing gloves and was completely covered, except for a small opening for her eyes. The mother was wearing a typical dress and scarf covering, but you could see her entire face, hands and feet in sandals. The older daughter was wearing a scarf, but had on designer jeans, a white polo shirt and tennis shoes while talking on a cell phone. And the 3 year old daughter was wearing a Minnie Mouse top and shorts.

I was really struck by the contrast between the many people who were so friendly and willing to try and talk to me; yet others were very suspicious, cold and almost threatening.

I thought about how difficult it must be for Christians in Muslim countries to share and live their faith under threats of persecution.

Most of all, it was for me a very important reminder of how much we need to pray that the people of North Africa and the Middle East might hear the gospel and come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Djemaa el-Fna is quite an amazing place. I would have loved to taken more photos of these guys... but after 2 shots they said no more and led me away!

What do you do if you don't have an oven? Well, you make your secret bread dough recipe and have your children take it to the baker to have it baked for you.

Thirsty? This man is one of many mobile drinking fountains who roam the markets of Marrakech. However, I suspect he earns more money posing for tourists.

About the Family

Many have written and asked how we’re enjoying our new home. Well, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to move in yet. The condominium isn’t ready.

Right now it looks like it will be ready at the end of November; but that is only if the elevator arrives. Being that we’ll be on the fifth floor, the elevator is an important feature! The report is that the elevator isn’t even in the country yet. Plus it will need to be released from customs, which is no small feat. Please pray that it arrives soon.

The girls are doing well. Rachel is enjoying second grade. She’s taking piano lessons and is busy practicing "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger" for her recital in December. She is also playing intramural soccer.

Nicole just turned 3 years old in October. She is a very fun and energetic girl. She loves to run; plus she is curious about everything. Her favorite question is, "What are you doing?" So Mommy answers that many times a day.

We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season. May you find much to be thankful for!

Praise Items: Praise for the good Annual Members’ Meeting in September.

Praise that Anastasia (the woman Duane met in Russia) now hosts a weekly church service in her home.

Praise for a visitor that came to Cheri’s weekly Bible study. Pray that Eugenia will continue to attend.

Prayer Items: Pray for the radio ministries targeting North Africa and the Middle East. Pray that people will hear the broadcasts and accept Christ.

Pray for Duane as he finishes his semester of teaching photography at the Christian Center of Communications.

Pray for the Christmas outreaches planned at the city dump and poor areas around the city of Quito.

A work team from the Willow Creek Association is coming to present their Good $ense Budget Course to our missionaries and the English-speaking community in February.

Please pray for the team as they prepare to come. Pray for Cheri as she lays the ground work for the seminar and pray for both Duane and Cheri as they host the work team.

Pray that our new condominium will be ready soon. Pray especially that the elevator will arrive. Please pray for the sale of our current condominium.

Pray for a foundation of various missions that is in the process of taking over the Alliance Academy over the next couple years.

Pray for Rachel, her teachers and her classmates as she attends second grade at the Alliance Academy.

the prayer letter of Duane and Cheri Birkey who support the ministries of HCJB World Radio in photography and finance.

Current Address:
Duane and Cheri Birkey
HCJB World Radio
Casilla 17-17-691
Quito, Ecuador

Home Phone Number:
(593-2) 225-6269

Email addresses:

World Wide Web Sites:

The group who attended the Annual Members’ Meeting in Quito - September 15, 2003. The theme was "Amazed by Grace" and Pastor Matt Heard was our speaker. Sites in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Pharr, Texas and Elkhart, Indiana connected to the meeting via satellite. As the coordinator, Cheri is thankful there was a good time of spiritual renewal, mission business and fellowship.
Duane’s Photographs of Ecuador

Contributions may be sent to:
HCJB World Radio
P.O. Box 39800
Colorado Springs, CO
Account # 110375

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